Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing

With the advent of print-on-demand services, self-publishing has become more affordable than ever and opens the doors for many authors as an alternative to the traditional publishers as a way to get their book in print. Self-publishing has some lucrative benefits as well as some risky drawbacks. Only the author can decide what is best for their project, but I hope that I can give you some information to make a more informed decision.

Pro: Higher Royalty/Profit

When you self-publish a novel you do not have anyone other than yourself taking out a portion of your revenue. If it costs you $5 to create a book and you sell it for $20 you just made a $15 profit. When you publish with a traditional house you can expect to see 10-15% royalty for the MSRP of each novel.

Con: Financial Risk

Even though you might see a higher profit, you will take on a higher financial risk. Print-on-Demand services can mitigate this, but the price/book will often go up. Even with print-on-demand service helping cover the actual printing cost, you will still have to pay someone to edit, design cover art, and have money for marketing as well.

Pro:  Creative Freedom

When you self-publish, you do not have to cut 20,000 words because your publisher wants to save money on printing costs. You will not be forced into using cover art that you hate. In fact, you will not be forced into doing anything that you do not want to do, because you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.

Con: Creative Freedom (Yes, this is also a Con)

Often times an author is so close to their work that they cannot see what parts need to go. By not having someone forcing you to kill your darlings you may not do it, and end up releasing a product that is lower quality.

Pro: Focus

Releasing a self-published book requires much more work than having a traditional publisher do so. You will have to create a business around your book in order to make it successful.  You are responsible for getting it into stores, marketing, setting up signings, and so much more.  You are focused on making your novel successful, where a traditional publisher may not push a book from a new author.

Con: Experience

A traditional publisher has entire departments dedicated for the different parts of the business of writing. You will have to learn how to sell, market, and distribute your novel in order to be successful. This learning curve can sometimes be the death of an otherwise great novel, simply because the author did not have the skills needed to get their product to their readers.

This was a brief look at self-publishing. If you have anything you want to add, stories you want to share, or questions feel free to comment. Check in next week to see me bumble through the “Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing.”

14 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing

  1. You for got one big Pro / Con: Timing – With self publishing you can publish as soon as you feel you are ready versus traditional publishing that can take 1-3 years. Con: You can publish as soon as you think you are ready. Just because you are ready, doesn’t mean your public is ready. Without experience to teach you what needs to be done ahead of the launch, or how to properly time your release, you risk launching without proper buzz or against unnecessarily heavy competition. Those painfully long schedules by the traditional houses exist for a reason.

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    1. I didn’t even realize how important timing is, but you are completely right! How do you find the best times to release a book? Or have you found a specific length of time to that helps build hype?

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      1. My research has said that in general Tuesdays in October and November are the best, however, ultimately it depends on your intended audience and their behaviours. For example, if you wrote something you want people to consider a beach read, you want to release it at the beginning of the beach season and not around the holidays. If your target audience prefers to spread recommendations via face to face gatherings, you need a long build up with regular reminders (but no so many as to make you seem pushy) so that they have time to talk about you. If you are targeting those who are used to more instant gratification or if your book can be described as “Fast Paced / Action Packed”, then a bigger, louder, and/or faster launch is probably more effective.

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      1. My current WIP that I am working on is a children’s fantasy set in Cambridge about a young girl who discovers a magical crystal cottage which has been hidden. This cottage becomes her refuge from a life that has changed beyond recognition. It becomes a place to discover and awaken her magical talents.

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